In many developing countries traditional medicine constitutes a major part of health care because of its local availability and affordability compared to modern medicine. However, little is known about the specific uses and availability of medicinal plants. In this research an exploratory study was conducted to determine the uses of three medicinal plants in Cameroon, and to examine their relative distribution and abundance in specific habitats. From a questionnaire administered to traditional healers, we and found that three species of medicinal plants including: Alstonia boonei, Picralima nitida and Sarcocephalus latifolius that are commonly used, either singly or in mixtures to treat human diseases such as muscle and joints pains, hyperthermia, hypertension, hepatitis, jaundice and rheumatism. Fresh or dry barks of the tree plants and fresh fruits of Picralima nitida, as well as various ethnopharmacological preparations (decoctions, maceration, infusion and powder) are widely commercialized. Findings from our ecological study revealed that Alstonia boonei was represented by 2, or 1 % of total individuals recorded in 0.5 ha, implying 3 individuals and 6 trees/ha. This tree was well represented and was sometime among the forests. Picralima nitida was represented by 0.6 % of total trees recorded in 0.5 ha, implying 0.70 tree and 1 tree/ha. This tree was poorly represented and was not a dominant species in its habitats. Sarcocephalus latifolius belonged to a group of 72 plants with a recovery < 5% corresponding to Braun- Blanquet scale1. Hence, this plant was not densely represented in the Sudono-Guinean and Sahelian savannahs. It is the most harvested species of the three species that has undergone a strong anthropogenic destruction. Therefore these three plants, and especially Sarcocephalus latifolius, need to be protected through a sustainable management of their habitats in Cameroon.
Keywords: Conservation strategies; Disease control; Irrational exploitation; Monospecific polyspecific recipes; Natural availability; Picralima nitida; Sarcocephalus; and Alstonia boone.